While stag beetles are not very colorful, they make up for it in pincers! Male stag beetles usually have enlarged, sometimes astonishing jaws. Most are black, brownish, or reddish brown. They are strong, elongated beetles. The antennae are enlarged at the tip or clubbed, with segments that fan open like leaves but that cannot be pressed together tightly into a ball. The antennae have 10 segments, and on many species the antennae are elbowed.
The jaws of male stag beetles are enlarged, imposing pincers that are used for fighting over females. On some species, they look like antlers (hence the name “stag beetle”). The pincers of females, though less spectacular, are still well-developed.
The larvae of stag beetles are whitish, C-shaped grubs that live in rotting wood. The heads are often brownish or black, and they have three pairs of legs. They look a lot like the larvae of scarabs and other beetles.
Habitat and Conservation
“Will it pinch me?” Maybe, if you handle it — but the jaws of males are used primarily for fighting other males, and they don’t bite people aggressively. Just about any creature with a jaw can potentially bite, and will, in defense.
The larvae are important decomposers of dead wood, which cleans up the forests and improves soil.